Today’s post is focused on how to prepare your garden for Spring

Preparing your garden for spring:

Currently we are experiencing that last bit of cold winter weather. Before we know it spring (September) will be on our doorstep and the weather will be warming. This blog covers tasks which you can and need to do in August and September in your garden, as well as plant choice advice for brightening your landscape up in spring and summer.

General maintenance in your garden:

If you have large clumps of ornamental grasses like Carex, Festuca and Miscanthus these can all be divided at this time of the year. Deciduous grasses and grass like plants like New Zealand flax and mondo grass can all be cleaned up by removing old blades. Restios do not much appreciate being pruned back harshly, so rather tidy them up by breaking off the old stems as low down as possible when new shoots appear from the base. A couple of other plants which should also be divided are Dietes, daylilies, wild garlic, red-hot pockers and deciduous agapanthus. Early spring is the perfect time to prune woody shrubs, so if some of your shrubs have grown into bare-legged ugly old bushes with growth at the top, then give them a good pruning to encourage new growth and a better shape. Some shrubs which need this kind of pruning are Poinsettia’s, Plumbago, Tecoma, Heliotrope, Solanums, Hypoestes, Wild dagga and Buddleja’s after blooming. Also prune all shrubs which have been winter damaged, and if you haven’t yet pruned your roses this is the perfect time.

When the flowers of your bulbs begin to fade that you planted in early winter, start feeding your bulbs for next year (Accumulation of nutrients). Leave the leaves to die back naturally and continue feeding until they have withered. You can leave these bulbs in the ground or you can remove, clean and store them.

Give your winter blooming plants a boost with a high nitrogen fertiliser to help them recuperate after heavy blooming (Azalea’s and Camellia’s etc). Acid loving plants often land up with nutrient deficiencies and one of these is yellowing of leaves. If this occurs, apply iron chelates and follow a few weeks later with Epsom salts (citrus, gardenia’s etc). Feed your roses after pruning. Here a 8:1:5 is the most appropriate fertiliser. This is a good time of the year to feed your Hydrangea’s. Take note that you get fertilisers especially designed for pink blooms and one for blue blooms. Tropical fruit trees should also be fed at this time of the year.

Garden Woes:

Termites feed on the dead parts of plants and trees. Look out for signs like narrow tunnels or small white eggs. Treat with products designed for termites. When about 80% of the blossoms on fruit trees have dropped, you can start spraying against fruit flies (get products designed for this). Prevention is a lot better than trying to cure the problem here. Snails are also still a problem at this time of the year. Please read our past blogs and posts for advice on how to control snails. The citrus psylla causes raised swellings on the upper surface of young leaves. Though this pest causes the tree to be rather unattractive it does not cause harm to the fruit or the general health of the tree unless the infestation is really bad. Organic insecticides which contain pyrethrums can be used when there are severe infestations. When you roses start blooming look out for bollworm and thrips, both of which damage rose buds and flowers.

Lawn tips:

August and September are the 2 months of the year to practice what we call ‘spring treatment’. This means cutting the lawn low, firm raking (scarification), levelling out and covering with a nutritious thin layer of lawn dressing. Feed with a liquid seaweed product or apply a general fertiliser like 2:3:2. Train your lawn to be more water wise by watering once weekly but well if there is no rain. Remember not to mow your lawn when it is wet as this can clog up your lawn mower, plus it makes your lawn more prone to diseases.

Here is a general tip on how the fertiliser N:P:K ratio effects grass, which will in turn help you to choose your appropriate fertiliser. If you have patchiness in your lawn, then you need to stimulate root growth with a high phosphorus fertiliser. Potassium rich fertilisers increase disease and drought resistance of lawn. Nitrogen promotes green lush growth.

What to do in your veggie & herb garden:

Here is our recommendation as to when to successfully plant veggies in September according to temperatures slowly warming up. In early September sow beetroot, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, peas, spinach and swiss chard. Mid-September is a good time to sow bush and runner beans as bush squashes. Late September is a good time to sow tomatoes, brinjals, chillies, and sweet peppers, mealies, pumpkins, melons and other trailing squash.

A lot of herbs can be divided at this time of the year; these include mint, oregano, marjoram, tarragon sorrel and chives. Herbs which can be sown at this time of the year rocket, chervil, coriander, dill, basil and borage.

What to plant in your ornamental garden:

For annual splashes of colour add Asters, Celosia’s, bedding Dahlias, Gazanias, Marigolds, Petunia’s, Salvia’s, sunflowers, Vincas and Zinnias. All of these are hardy, sun loving and fairly drought resistant.

For perennial colour plant marguerite daisy bushes, Osteospermums, daylilies, roses, Arctotis, Verbenas, Diascia’s, Bacopa, Callibrachoe, Nemesia and Pelargoniums. All of these are hardy and water wise. When these plants complete blooming cut back a fair amount of the plant, fertilise and they will usually pop back up again instead of being thrown away after blooming.

Osteospermum.

Plant summer flowering bulbs like Gladiolus, Cannas, Watsonias, Crocosmias, Eucomis, colour Zantedeschias and dahlia’s but to name a few.

We hope the hints and tips in this blog will help you to create your perfectly landscaped garden that you have envisioned.

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